If we continue along this path ‘It won’t be safe for kids to go to school in the fall,’ local doctor says of coronavirus spread in Ohio

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – FOX 8 got some insight from a Northeast Ohio infectious disease specialist about why we should all be concerned about the uptick in coronavirus cases.

Dr. Amy Edwards is an Infectious Disease Specialist at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

“It’s not just an increase in cases, it’s a very disturbing trend,” Dr. Edwards said Thursday morning.

The Ohio Department of Health reports 69,311 total coronavirus cases as of the most recent data available Wednesday afternoon.

Cases have increased by more than 10,000 since July 2 in Ohio, according to ODH.

“It’s not just an increase in cases. It’s a very disturbing trend.”

Dr. Amy Edwards, Infectious Disease Specialist, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital

Dr. Edwards said they did expect some increase in cases when the economy reopened at the end of May.

But she says that isn’t what they’re seeing.

“What I didn’t expect…is that people returned to completely normal life. People were no longer giving you space at the grocery store. People were no longer trying to limit birthday parties.”

The result she says is what we’re seeing now in the Public Health Alert Advisory System that has 12 counties at a red Level 3.  

That means the healthcare system is already seeing stress.

Levels of Public Health Advisory Alert System:

  • Level 1 (Yellow): County has triggered zero or one of the indicators. There is active exposure and spread.
  • Level 2 (Orange): County has triggered two or three indicators. There is increased risk of exposure and spread.
  • Level 3 (Red): County has triggered four or five indicators. There is very high exposure and spread.
  • Level 4 (Purple): County has triggered six or seven indicators. There is severe exposure and spread.

Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System indicators:

  • New cases per capita
  • Sustained increase in new cases
  • Proportion of cases that are not in congregate settings
  • Sustained increase in COVID-19-related emergency room visits
  • Sustained increase in COVID-19-related outpatient visits including telehealth
  • Sustained increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions
  • Intensive care unit occupancy.

Four of the red Level 3 counties are in Northeast Ohio.

Gov. Mike DeWine will update the alert levels Thursday afternoon.

Cuyahoga County has been on the brink of a Level 4.

“It’s time for a mask mandate for the whole state. Just do it.”

Dr. Amy Edwards, Infectious Disease Specialist, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital

The area is already seeing an increase in hospital admissions, ER visits, and outpatient visits.

Dr. Edwards had a grim outlook on what might happen next.

“Deaths lag behind cases, so first you get a surge in cases, then you get a surge in hospitalizations, and then you get a surge in deaths.”

She said if we continue down this path, kids will not be able to safely attend school.

“If we’re going up, up, up, up, and four weeks from now it’s worse than it is now, than no,” Dr. Edwards said.

“It won’t be safe for kids to go to school in the fall. “

That’s one of many reasons she wished Gov. DeWine had pushed for a statewide mask mandate in his address Wednesday night.

“It’s time to mandate masks for the whole state. Just do it.”

 How effective are masks?

She says new research shows in communities where mask use is prevalent, coronavirus spread drops down to zero.

“If you wear a mask and you have coronavirus, your chances of spreading it to another person are very very low.”

That will be key, she says, in getting kids back to school.

“If everybody is wearing their mask and social distancing and minimizing contact with other people, then it will be safe for kids to go to school in the fall.”

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